|09.24.09||Paramount||This Screening is part of event: FantasticFest 2009|
The Opening Night film is this: the new one from the Napoleon Dynamite guy. They got him, his wife, Sam Rockwell, Jermaine Clement (in full character reciting the winner of some sci-fi-ku competition (my favorite of which was "twinkle little star / if you do not grant my wish / I will destroy you)), and star Michael Angarano to appear with it, which would've been cool if my super VIP badge didn't yield me perhaps the worst seat in the venue. OK Maybe that's a bit facetious. I wasn't in the far right or left so the screen wasn't obscured by the box seats, but I was in pretty much the last row of the orchestra so the top of the screen was obscured by the balcony and all the ushers sat around me with their old person smell and disregard for the movie. So when the special guests came out, they strongly resembled animated action figures. In fact, since I didn't recognize Angarano by name, I had no clue he was the kid from Sky High (not to mention young William in Almost Famous where he would've stolen the entire movie if the rest wasn't so damn good) until I saw him on screen. So for everyone wanting celeb sighting dish, I can say that Rockwell had a buzz cut or something.
So the movie: I liked it. But I also liled Nacho Libre. I didn't get a kids-movie vibe from this one, but I did get a valium depressant vibe, which is what I think threw a lot of people off. I think this might be a movie for kids on horse tranquilizers. Take that as a good thing or a bad thing.
Actually that's how I view most of this movie. You can take the style and setting and characters as a good thing or a bad thing depending simply on whether you dig it or not. I think it's easy to see this movie as a deliberate step back into Napoleon Dynamite territory (the beginning titles are very similar, the first scene takes place on a school bus, there's a wacky female parent,...Utah) but if you don't see it that way and instead take it in as Jared Hess' personal worldview and accept that almost every movie he does is going to be this way, then it fits right in and works well.
The undeniably great parts of this movie are Jermaine Clement and Sam Rockwell. Both play characters that are extreme but both ground it in a comfort with who they are that it works; they are a joy to watch. The problem is that neither one are in the movie as much as you want them too.
It's definitely an odd movie from the guy who did Napoleon Dynamite. I think how you react to it depends on how open you are for it. To reiterate: I liked it.
Again there was a Q&A (which i heard was good, even from people who did not like the movie), but again, we had to haul ass back to South Lamar to make our next movie... so we had to leave right after the final scene in the movie which appears after the credits.
As a side note and potential advice to latecomers to the fest: apparently everyone thought that the line of white vans parked outside South Lamar was some sort of shuttle service taking geeks back and forth for the gala events. So also apparently, the "news" traveled everywhere (the variant I heard was that there were shuttles but the waits would be very long). Third apparently, there were large clumps of people standing on the sidewalk waiting for some phantom shuttle to take them 2 miles so they wouldn't have to park downtown, thus making some people late for the movie. HA HA. There is no shuttle.
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